Racing Curragh – part 3
Southampton Long Island Hotel
As she walked into the bar, Allison could see Ed Mitchell sitting at the counter. She smiled as she walked over to him.
"That little bitch, that fucking little whore!"
Ed Mitchell was obviously already well and truly drunk
when Allison sat down next to him.
"Hey if it aint my sympathetic ear...Barkeep a
brandy for the lady."
"Just a small one please...So what happened
“What, apart from my beloved wife freezing her assets and kicking me out of her house? How about the little whore not answering my calls or my texts.”
“This would be the mysterious Kerry?”
“Yeah – I finally got a text from her, and she’s dumped me, turned out she didn't love me, turned out she loved what I could give her with my wife's money...Do you fuckin' believe that?”
“The world is a very cruel and strange place, Ed. So many out only for themselves.”
“So what are they saying about me up there, bet the witches are planning their devil dolls already…”
“I do not think Anna would do that to you, even now Ed,” Allison said as she sipped her drink.
“Not her – I mean Huntingdown and her group. She never really liked me, you know.”
“I know the feeling,” Allison said, “she’s a close friend of George’s ex.”
“Sandy Richmond? Nice girl – nice kids too. But nah – Juliette Huntingdown is the one that’s going to whisper into Anna’s ear, I know that already. She smiles at you, but there is a look she has…”
“Oh come on, she’s not that bad. I know her as a trustee of the Kirkham fund – she’s a little cold, I grant you, but…”
“A little!” Ed threw his head back and laughed, before he said “there’s a reason she’s not had a man for a long time you know – not until the shining prince from her past came out of the mist.”
“Klaus? You knew him?”
“Anna did – she, Mary, Juliette, Diana, they all go way back to her time in Paris. Anyway, she came back, and nine months later – there’s the baby.”
“Funny that – how neither Juliette or Carina liked to talk about who the father of their children was. I mean, we all know about Carina now…”
“DNA tests and all – but has anyone ever wondered who the dad of Carina’s kid is? If you ask, they say he did a runner the moment he found out she was up the duff.”
“A lot of young boys would, Ed.”
“Yeah – and a lot of other people disappear in other ways.”
“You’re not suggesting…”
"All I'm saying is that it seems awfully coincidental that that limey art forger turns up dead so soon after he raped Juliette Huntingdown." Ed swigged back his whiskey.
"You mean he actually raped Juliette?"
Allison was genuinely shocked.
"So my soon to be ex wife told me."
"Why didn't she report it to the police?"
"Because as in a lot of things that bitch
Juliette doesn't like anyone looking closely at her real life." Ed
signaled the barman for another drink. "From rumours I used to hear out of
the Far East Huntingdown's does a lot of business that either is kept off the
books, or the books are adapted to make it look kosher."
"You mean Juliette is crooked?"
"I can't say one way or another, but just take her friend Catherine Lo, I hear Cathy knows some very interesting people back home."
“Oh? What sort of people?”
“Let’s just say she has connections in very high places, and knows the people who can make things simple or difficult,” Ed said.
Allison could not believe what she was hearing. Juliette Huntingdown, the oh so pure writer and model, had a dark side? Could she really have – no, that was unthinkable.
Or was it?
“Ed, are you staying here again tonight?”
“Got nowhere else to go until Anna lets me get my things.”
“I have to go, but I’ll call again tomorrow. I want to hear more of this.”
Allison got up and left, thinking over what she should do next. Juliette had been a beacon of strength after that Kirkham business, especially with Carina being so nearly killed. Could that have turned her into…
No – no speculation. She took out her cell phone and sent a text, before heading back to Curragh Park.
"Now that's interesting."
“What is,” Jo said as she put her pencil down.
Curt looked up from reading Adam's notes. "Both
Black Jack, and the Flaherty boys had fought on the IRA side in the First War
of Irish Independence. But when the Treaty was signed, Black Jack was a Pro
Treaty man, while the Flaherty's fought on the Republican side."
"Political divisions ran very deep at the
time." Alex shook his head.
"I know...it gives another reason for the Flaherty's to want to have hurt Jack beyond the insult to the family honour with his messing with their sister."
“Is it possible he went back to the mother country? I mean, things were quiet there, but still…”
“What is,” Ken said as he looked at his wife, who was bent over a microscope.
"The bullets came from a very small calibre
weapon." Karen looked up.
"Hardly sounds like the sort of thing old Black
Jack or the Flaherty's would have carried." Adam spoke.
"More like a ladies weapon." Ken smiled. "Guys I think there was another participant that night."
“What about the bone fragments, Ken?”
“Well, I’d know better if we had a modern lab, but they are about eighty to eighty five years old. What we would love to have is an account of what happened that night, but you say there isn’t really one?”
“Not that we’ve been able to find yet.”
“Well, we found the passage from his diaries that covers his visit to Curragh Park,” Shirley said as she sat down, “as well as some records from the archives.”
“It starts with him, his fiancée Gladys Pugh, and the inestimable Jayes arriving at Curragh Park…”
“It was good of Miss Richmond to invite us to come for her engagement party,” I recall Gladys saying as we drove up the tree lined avenue to the front of Curragh Park.
“Indeed Miss,” Jayes said from the rear of the car, “a most generous invitation.”
Gladys, Jayes and I were spending the spring in New York, while I took care of some business on behalf of Aunt Agnes, or as I tend to call her She Who Cannot Be Denied. It was meant to have been a short two week trip, but somehow messages got confused, misunderstanding took place, and we had all decided (after consultation with Gladys’ sister) to stay an extra month. I know Jayes in particular had been pained by this, but what can you do?
As it was, however, as we approached the main house it was clear the good Annabel Richmond’s family had invested wisely. The grounds were vast, and as we pulled up in the jalopy we were greeted by a tall, thin man with a serious bent.
“Good afternoon,” I said as I jumped out, “Mister Rhymaes and Miss Pugh?”
“You are expected sir,” he said in that strange American accent, “Miss Richmond is with her family in the drawing room. Your bags will be taken to your rooms, and your man may take refreshment in the servant’s dining room.”
“I will see that the luggage is correctly placed, Sir,” Jayes said, and he talked quietly to the footman as the butler showed us in.
“Barty! You made it – how wonderful!”
Gladys showed her usual look of mild bemusement as Annabel Richmond came forward, a vision in pearl silk and chiffon, and hugged me.
“Good to see you as well, Annabel old sport,” I eventually gasped. “This is my fiancé, Gladys Pugh. Gladys, Annabel Richmond.”
“Pleasure,” Gladys said as she shook Annabel’s hand.
“Mom, Dad, this is the man I met in London two years ago. Barty, Gladys, Thomas and Shelagh Richmond, aka mom and pops.”
Richmond Senior looked like a businessman, with his neat grey hair and suit, but as I shook his hand I felt a grip that showed he had power. Mrs. Richmond was a red headed Irish beauty, and greeted Gladys with a kiss.
“So how did you bag Barty, Gladys?”
“Long story – I’ll tell you it later,” Gladys beamed as Jayes said “Your bags have been placed in the Blue Room, sir.”
“JAYES!! How are you?”
“Passably well Miss Richmond. Good afternoon Miss Huntingdown.”
Gladys and I turned to the door to see Jane Huntingdown come in. When we met in London, she was bookish, but in her grey blouse and skirt, her hair down, she was a beauty in her own right.
Not on the same scale as Gladys, but – well, you know.
Huntingdown now Barty, she received her PhD a few weeks ago."
"Well congratulations old thing."
”Hello Barty, Jayes – and this must be Gladys. Welcome to Chez Richmond.”
“Oh boy,” Annabel said as a man mountain walked in. Huge, with a full black beard, he looked at Gladys and me and said “Oh – your English friends.”
“Barty, Gladys, this is my Uncle Jack. Uncle, Barty Rhymaes and Gladys Pugh.”
He looked at us and said “Right – just keep out of my way.”
“What do you want, Jack,” Richmond Mater said as they left the room. “Drink, Mister Rhymaes, Miss Pugh,” her father said as we both nodded.
"Well Ken what can you tell me so far?" Tom
asked as he came into the lab.
"It may have started as a knife fight, but each
had a .22 calibre bullet put into their heads to finish them off."
"Anything about the clothing yet?"
"Frieda is running some tests."
"Yes, she's a physicist but she has a chemistry background, she's proving invaluable up there."
“So more soon?”
“I hope so.”
Shirley looked at the others, and said “The next entry is later that night, as they retire after dinner…”
“So, what do you think Jayes,” I said as I sat in the bedroom, removing the old tie and collar.
“A most eclectic household, sir. As you are aware, I hold both Miss Richmond and Doctor Huntingdown in very high regard, and I was pleased to see that Miss Pugh was, to use the phrase, so in with them.”
“I agree Jayes – reluctant as I am to introduce Gladys to my past relationships, I am sure they have much in common with her.”
“Indeed, Sir,” Jayes said as he hung my jacket, and for a moment I could have sworn I saw him smile.
“So who else makes up the party this weekend?”
“Mister Rockland, Miss Richmond’s fiancée, arrives tomorrow, as does another friend of the ladies from London.”
“So what is Rockland into?”
“He is an importer and exporter of fine art and gems, sir.”
“How useful – and the other friend?”
“I have been unable to ascertain her name sir – only that she has been touring the country, and is stopping in before returning home.”
“And Saturday night is Annabel’s engagement party?”
“Correct, sir – the cream of New York society has apparently been invited, as have many of Miss Richmond’s friends.”
Nodding, I sipped on the W&S. “A pity we are on holiday, Jayes – I sense there would be unique opportunities here.”
“Doubtless, Sir, but as you say we are en vacance.”
“Well, I think that is all for tonight,” I said as I replaced the glass. “When is reveille?”
“Breakfast is served at eight, sir.”
“Very well, wake me at seven, Jayes.”
“Very good, sir.”
The next morning saw me descending for Breakfast at eight fifteen, Gladys kindly waiting for me in the hallway, a vision in a blue coatdress with white collar and cuffs.
“Barty, this is a wonderful place,” she said as she gave me a good morning kiss, “and Annabel and Jane are absolute dolls.”
“So you approve of them?”
“How could I not,” she said as we walked into the breakfast room. Annabel’s parents were at the table, alongside her Uncle Jack. He took one look at us and left, as we sat down.
“Please excuse him,” Shelagh said, “he means no insult.”
“None taken,” I said as the maid served coffee. “Would you care for fruit or cereal, sir,” she said.
“Fruit I think,” I said, Gladys agreeing as Annabel came in with Jane.
“Barty, you must come for a walk with us this morning – and tell your man to come as well.”
“All right – if word can be sent to Jayes to join us after breakfast?”
The maid nodded and left as the doorbell rang.
“Mister Arthur Rockland,” the butler said as he showed in a tall, very well built man with a shock of curly brown hair and a suit that was cut with style.
“Rocky,” Annabel said as she went up and gave him a kiss. “You’re early.”
“Well, I gave Alex a lift down,” the man said as another, younger man came in. He was obviously Annabel’s brother.
“Good morning, mom, pop,” he said as he rubbed his hands. “Any chance of some breakfast.”
Gladys, meet Rocky Rockland, my fiancé." Annabel smiled proudly.
meet you, old fruit," I said as I shook the big man’s hand, and then shook
my hand. His grip was like a vice.
one of the Seven Mules."
what?" Gladys asked a trifled bemused.
"Oh I always forget your Brits don't follow our kind of football." Annabel's laugh was as I remembered it, like tinkling bells. "The 1924 Notre Dame team coached by Knute Rockne were national champions. Grantland Rice wrote a famous piece in which he called the four backs, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The linemen, what I guess you call the scrum in rugby, were quickly nicknamed the Seven Mules by the press. Rocky was one of those guys."
“Oh, a sportsman – I read an account in the press,” Gladys said. “Barty’s idea of sport doesn’t go much beyond the golf course or the tennis court.”
“Well, I play as well – perhaps we can have a game of tennis later?”
“Certainly,” I said, wondering already when I could get out of it when I was saved by the butler again.
“Miss Annabel, there is a Mrs Annie Xavier on the telephone for you.”
“Annie? She must have arrived and want to know when to come. Excuse me,”
As she went off, Gladys looked at me, and then at Jane. “Annie Xavier? I think I’ve heard of her – how did you meet?”
“In London,” Jane said as she sat down. “Come on, Rocky, Alex – let’s eat.”
We had spent a pleasant morning walking through the park, but as we approached the house we saw a car outside, and a woman just about the same height as Gladys talking to the butler.
“Is that Annie,” Jane said as we looked at the woman, wearing a long grey coat with a white fur trim and a matching grey hat.
“I do believe it is,” Annabel said as the woman turned and waved, her brunette hair peeking out from under the cap. She waved and said in a clear London accent “COOEEEE!”
As we got closer, I said “Hang on – I know you. You work at the Tontom Club.”
“I did,” she said as she extended her hand, “but I came into some money, and invested in a new business. Annie Xavier – Mister Rhymaes, isn’t it?”
“Call me Barty – my fiancé Gladys,” I said as they hugged and kissed.
“Lunch is served in the dining room, Miss Richmond,” Jayes said as he somehow appeared from nowhere. He noticed Annie standing there, and said “Mrs. Xavier – a pleasure to meet you.”
“Likewise,” Annie said, but the look they exchanged seemed to say something was hidden from me.
“Come on, all of you,” Annabel said as she headed for the door, “I’m starving!”
“So all the main players are in place – what else happened before the party?”
Flipping through the pages, Shirley said “Apparently a small dinner party was held that night – listen to this…”
Dinner had been most pleasant, and as the ladies went out I was talking to Old Man Richmond, Jayes assisting with the drinks as Rocky and Alex sat in their armchairs.
"I never was
much of a believer in paper assets Rhymaes."
stocks and such things sir?"
"I do, keep
your money in hard assets m'boy, jewellery, gold, those are always going to
have value, but above all land. The land is always there, it'll always be an
advice Sir," as indeed later events on Wall Street in October that year
would prove, and I was glad I followed his advice.
The women came back in as Jack Richmond opened some champagne.
“A toast to Rocky and Annabel is called for,” he boomed out as the ladies passed the glasses around.
just had the most fascinating conversation with Jane." Gladys brought over
glasses of champagne." "Do you know she's a specialist in
what?" I almost spilled old man Richmond's good fizz in shock.
"She's a modern day Sherlock Holmes, she uses science to solve murders and other crimes....Isn't that just fascinating?"
“Yes – most fascinating,” I sputtered.
“A toast,” Richmond said, “to Annabel and Arthur!”
“ANNABEL AND ARTHUR!”
“So how’s business Annie,” Annabel said as she looked at her friend.
“Good – working with Rocky, I think we can form a good and strong alliance in both directions.”
“So you are in import as well, Mrs. Xavier?”
“I am, Mrs. Richmond – fine art and cloths for now.”
“Xavier Cloth – that’s where I heard the name! Barty, the dressmaker is using her wares for my wedding dress.”
“Well that’s wonderful,” Annabel said, “I hope we get the invitations soon.”
“Good night, Barty,” Gladys said as we kissed and I watched her walk to the room, before I stepped in to find Jayes laying out my nightclothes.
“A very pleasant evening, Sir?”
“Very much so Jayes – I like Annie Xavier, she has made something of herself.”
“Indeed Sir,” Jayes said as he took my jacket. “The servants are most complimentary about her as well – she went to see them this afternoon to talk to them.”
“Salt of the earth she is.”
"And what do
you make of Mr. Rockland Sir?"
necessarily the brightest spark in the room Jayes, but he seems a thoroughly
decent sort to me, he's even offered to put me up for his club
good of him Sir." He handed me the
nightcap as I sat in the seat.
"A bit of a
blow finding out what Jane does to earn a crust though."
a trifle off-putting, but not something that will ever I think interfere in our
kind of superior detective Jayes, that could make things rather dicey one day
"Oh I think
we have nothing to fear from the doctor, though others might."
"Can I ask
what you might know that I don't Jayes?"
"My lips are sworn to silence Sir."
I looked at him, and said “Jayes I will find out, you know.”
“If there is nothing else sir, the cigarette case is to your side. I will bring your morning tea at eight, breakfast tomorrow is at nine.”
“Very well Jayes,” I said quietly, “you may go.”
Jayes bowed and slipped noiselessly out, leaving me with my thoughts.
“All right, briefing time.”
Tom looked at the others as they sat round the table.
"Do we all agree?" Ken asked.
The others all nodded.
"Alright Tom, these are the bare bones on our
skeletons, if you'll pardon the pun. Three Caucasian males, age approximately
25 to 40 years old. One six feet five inches tall, the others six feet two and
six feet one.” Ken paused, "From tiny hair samples all had natural
red hair, from the skeleton we can tell all had done some form of manual labour
at some time of their lives."
"Larger then normal bones supported larger then
normal muscles." Karen explained.
"They had all been in several fights I'd guess,
nicks and fractures to the bones that had healed up, and all three had at some
time been shot and the bullet wounds had had time to heal. Oh also maybe they
"How do you deduce that Ken?" asked Adam.
"The state of the skulls show they received punches
to the head that are consistent with what we see from boxers skulls after their
"That sounds consistent with what little we know
about the Flaherty boys as yet." Tom smiled. "Three very rough and
tough boyos who could more then look after themselves."
“It also matches the profiles Jo and I drew up,” Curt said. “The Flaherty brothers put family loyalty above all else, and would do anything to protect their sister.”
“What happened to her anyway,” Tom asked.
“Believe it or not, she went back to Ireland and married a farm worker over there. We did an online search and traced her relatives to County Cork.”
“Which still does not explain where Jack Richmond went,” Adam said. “John?”
“I looked at the photos we took of the knives. The style and make match those used in New York in the late twenties and early thirties.”
“What I can get from the fibres suggests tweed and wool – again common to the time. The dyes used that I could extract also date to the period.”
"I'll ask NYPD what they have on them and see if the descriptions match." Janice finished taking notes. “Send them our findings as well.”
“We did good work today people,” Tom said, “Hopefully, one mystery is going to be cleared up.”
“I now need to turn to an entry taken from a report made by Jayes to the Agency in London, upon their return.
I had partaken of breakfast, and was about to take Mr. Rhymaes his morning tea when there was a knock on the door to the kitchen. Mr. Wilson opened the door, and allowed in a man of Italian descent.
can I introduce Mr. Jimmy Vecchio, he leases a barn here on the estate."
to him that I can serve such beautiful tomatoes, cucumbers and the like Mr.
Jayes." Mrs. Dawson the cook smiled contentedly.
"I have to
say I've seldom tasted better Mr. Vecchio." I said as I shook his hand and
supplies our more liquid needs...if you get my drift Mr. Jayes?"
"I think I do, Mr. Wilson,” I replied to the Steward. I had wondered how, in these times of constraint on the transport of liquor, the Richmond family managed to get so much. A look at Mr. Vecchio was enough for me to know they had, as the Americans like to say, connections.
The discussion was interrupted by the gong for pre-dinner drinks. “Oh boy, is that the time,” Juliette said. “We’d better go and join the others.”
“There you are,” Vanessa said as they came in. “What have you been doing?”
“Research on behalf of Janice – I think we have some information for you,” Shirley said quietly.
“Really? Perhaps you can all tell us what you have found over dinner.”
“I have something to add to that as well.”
Vanessa and Alex turned to see a dusty looking Sigi and Winston come in with Dieter and the girls.
“I hate to ask,” Ingrid said with a giggle, “but what have you been doing, Aunt Sigi?”
“Discovering an eighty-plus year old cache of whiskey and brandy,” Sigi said as she accepted a drink.
“Oh my,” Vanessa said quietly, “then it was true? Capone’s liquor was hidden in the barn?”
“It was – there was a hidden door in a wardrobe of one of the rooms. Tom you may wish to see it when we return tonight, and decide who to inform.”
“This does seem to have been a day for discoveries,” Curt said as he handed Winston a drink. “Why don’t we eat and then we can discuss all we’ve discovered.”
“Pepsi, why are you dusty as well,” April asked with a raised eyebrow.
“We helped – I’ll tell you both about it later,” Pepsi said with a smile.
“The Flaherty brothers? May they know some peace now at least,” Gus said as they sat round the dinner table. “But what were they doing down there?”
“I think – and at the moment it’s only think – Black Jack knew of the tunnel and lured them down there to sort this out. As to who killed them – well, they were shot, but by a gun a woman would carry.”
"Your thoughts Curt?" asked Adam as they sat
"This is very old school, the Flaherty's had a
code of honour that you don't find very often today, an insult to a woman
member of the family was something that had to be paid for in some form."
"There were still vestiges of that kind of
thinking back home when I was a girl." Katherine nodded. "Call it a vendetta,
or a feud, but people took that kind of thing more than just seriously."
She thought as she remembered something. "There was a house my Grandfather
would walk across the street to avoid passing, simply because the man who lived
there had once got the sister of a friend of his in trouble, and that was 45
"If we are to solve this then that's the kind of mentality we need to understand." Curt nodded to Katherine.
"So why chose to come out and have such a public
"That's easy Tom, they wanted to shame and
"So they didn't necessarily come looking for a
"No - men like that, they wanted a fight they'd
do it quietly, probably from ambush. They came to make a noise that would hurt
the Richmond's in front of their high-class friends."
"And if I know my family, which I do." Nessa
looked solemn, "They would not have reacted well to such a public
"That was my thought." Joanne spoke. "I
think maybe the Flahertys considered the Richmonds had gone soft, that maybe
they were no longer 'real Irish'."
"That's an intriguing idea." Tom Callaghan held his fork in the air while he thought. "So we really need to find out just how the scene went down in the party?"
“We may be able to throw a little light on that,” Shirley said quietly. “I’ll explain after dinner.”
“This Irish connection, though – just how much bad blood would there have been between them over that?”
“We covered that in a history class,” Ally said. “As I understand it, when Eire got independence from the rest of the United Kingdom, some who fought were angry at the division of the country, and wanted to keep fighting.”
“Not quite – when the settlement happened, many felt they lost on the declaration of the Irish Republic, and so they formed the Irish Republican Army. Between 1922 and 1923, the two sides fought for control of the new Ireland – the Free State supported by London, and in the end victorious.”
“That’s right Katherine,” Ally said, “and it also allowed Northern Ireland to be created. Anyway, that sense of betrayal led to a bloody conflict, and a lifetime of resentment.”
“It was late ’23 when Jack Richmond came out to join the family over here – the Flaherty boys followed a year later. And then came the engagement party – and, now we have a fair idea of what happened to the Flaherty boys.”
“I take it there’s nothing back from NY yet, Janice?”
“They say it will be tomorrow, but they’ll call as soon as they have checked the archives.”
As the pudding was served, Tom said “So there is a booze cache over our heads, Sigi?”
“Oh yes, very much so,” Sigi said quietly.
“What’s wrong, darling,” Dieter said.
“We found something,” Winston said, “but I’d like to wait until after dinner please. I think it may tie into whatever Shirley has found out.”
“Very well then,” Vanessa said, “let us postpone further discussion until after dinner is finished.”
"I'll be surprised if there aren't other hidden
passageways that we haven't even thought of yet." Alex said as he sipped
his port, "I'm starting to think that when the 'Old Fella' built this
estate he had security in mind and had lots of hidden exits built in."
"We have several at Furstenheim," Klaus
nodded, "My ancestor Frederick the Fourth was I guess paranoid about his
privacy, and when he had the place remodeled in the early 18th century, he too
had lots of passages and secret doors built in."
"In his case though I think it was to prevent his
wife knowing when he slipped out to see his mistresses." Sigi laughed.
"Well for whatever reason they are here and were obviously used." Adam spoke.
“For many purposes,” Shirley said. “The fact a tunnel runs from the Beach Shack to the Cellar certainly gives credence to the fact a lot of liquor was smuggled in.”
“And the one from the Widow’s cottage to the Chapel?”
“There used to a boat house down there, right?”
“Ah – an escape route,” Alex said quietly.
“So, Shirley, what do you have to share,” Vanessa said as she sat down.
“At the time of the engagement party, Vanessa, your visitor book shows a Bartholomew Rhymaes and Gladys Pugh visited. Rhymaes wrote and published a series of diaries of his experiences as a young man, and I own a complete set. I had a copy of the pages covering this visit sent over to me when his name was pointed out. What I have here,” she said as Susan passed her a tablet, “is his recollection of the night of the engagement party. Jayes, the man he mentions, is his personal manservant.”
“How does it look Jayes,” I said as I looked at myself in the mirror.
“If I may sir – a small adjustment. One should always aim for the perfect butterfly shape,” Jayes said as he adjusted my bow tie, and then helped me to put on the jacket.
There was a knock on the door, and Gladys came in, a vision in grey silk with a beaded dress matched by her gloves and pearls.
“My my, you do scrub up well, Mister Rhymaes,” she said as she looked at me.
“Why thank you, Miss Pugh,” I said as I offered my arm. “What part do you play tonight, Jayes?”
“I have been asked to assist with the drinks tonight, Sir, so I shall be available if I am required.”
“Excellent – shall we go and celebrate with Miss Richmond, Gladys?”
“Why yes, yes we shall,” she said as Jayes held the door and we started to head out, arm in arm.
As we came down the marble staircase, other guests were coming into the hallway. I recognized many of the bright young things of the Manhattan set, as well as some of the richest men in the city.
“Kind of makes your head spin, doesn’t it,” Annie Xavier said as she came down behind us, wearing an ivory silk sleeveless dress.
“Slightly different from the life of a club hostess,” Gladys said with a smile.
“I was lucky enough to be able to improve myself,” Annie said as she returned the smile. “After all, we must all stick together in our circle of friends, mustn’t we?”
Gladys looked at her, and then gave one of her beautiful smiles. “Of course we must,” she said, as I looked at both of them, not having the foggiest of what just happened.
“Did I miss something,” I said as we walked in.
“Barty, sometimes I wonder if you deliberately fail to see the obvious,” Gladys said as Jayes approached with a tray of glasses.
I looked over to see Annabel, her long white dress flowing as she wore a dazzling set of emerald jewellery on her neck and chest.
“The Richmond Emeralds,” Jane Huntingdown said behind us, “a gift from a friend.”
“That was the first public appearance of the Emeralds,” Vanessa said, “Great Aunt Annabel had them mounted in New York by one of the finest jewelers”
“The next part deals with his impressions of the band and the guests,” Shirley said, “and you may find them of interest later. But I want to go to, if you like, the main event of the evening.”
I watched from the side of the room with Gladys as Old Man Richmond came onto the stage, the bandmaster watching as he took the microphone.
“Friends, can I crave a moment of your time,” he said as Alex came over and stood with us. I saw Jayes standing with the other servants, amused to see Annie Xavier with them.
“I want to take a moment to thank you all for coming to our home,” Richmond said with genuine pride in his voice, “and for taking us into your society as well. I especially wish to thank you for your kindness and good wishes to Alex and Annabel.
“And we are here tonight to do something which makes me very proud and also very humble – to announce the engagement of Annabel to Arthur Rockland. Arthur has done everything in the right way, and I am so pleased to say that I have given my permission for the engagement to be made public.”
I, Gladys and many others applauded that announcement, and I could see both her brother and her uncle clapping with enthusiasm as well. Her mother could not have looked prouder, as Annabel and Rocky kissed.
After that the applause started to die down – only it didn’t stop. One pair of hands was still clapping, slowly, loudly, and it was coming from the entrance to the ballroom.
All eyes and heads turned to see three red headed men standing there, most definitely not dressed for the occasion. One glance at Jayes with both eyebrows raised was enough to tell me his views on the matter.
“Nice little speech Richmond,” the tallest of the three men said, “wonder if you’ll extend the same courtesy to my sister Nelly.”
“Flaherty,” Old Man Richmond said as Jane came over to stand with us. “What do you want?”
“Who are they,” I whispered.
“Annabel told me about them,” he whispered back, “old enemies from the old country.”
“What the hell are you doing here,” Uncle Jack said as he came and stood in front of them.
“Why we wanted to offer our congratulations to your little niece,” Flaherty said, “and to ask you if you are going to do the right thing by Nell.”
“What do you mean, do the right thing?”
“You should know, Jack Richmond – you screwed us in ’23, and you’re screwing the Flaherty family again now.”
There was a dark murmuring around the room as Old Man Richmond walked forward and joined his brother.
“Jack, what have you been doing?”
“On the soil of our homeland, nothing…”
“Is there something specific you wish to discuss gentlemen,” Rocky said as he came forward as well, the three men looking at him.”
“Our beef ain’t with you son,” Flaherty said, “it’s with Jack here.”
“Fine,” Jack said, his face growing redder than a beetroot, “then let’s talk it out, like gentlemen.”
“You’re no gentleman Richmond – you’re a traitor to the country and the cause.”
“No man calls my family traitors,” Richmond Senior growled, but I was surprised to see Jayes step forward.
“If I may intercede for a moment, gentlemen, it strikes me that the ladies Richmond have no part to play in this conversation. May I suggest we take it to a more secluded and discrete location, where you may give full voice to the grievance?”
“What did fancy boy here just say?”
“He said let’s take this outside,” Jack growled.
“Suits us,” Flaherty said.
“May I suggest the Chapel, gentlemen? The peace of the presence of the Almighty may help soothe fevered minds”
“You always talk so funny boy?”
“Forgive me Sir,” Jayes said with an inclination of the head, “I was always taught to be calm and polite in all circumstances.”
“Jayes may speak in a funny way,” Richmond said, “but he speaks truth. Let’s take this out to the Chapel.” He then turned to the bandleader and said “Play something people can dance to – we’ll return shortly.”
As he and Jack watched the Flaherty men turn, Richmond turned to Jayes and said “come with us – we need witnesses.”
“May I suggest two other independent witnesses, Sir – Mister Rhymaes and Mrs. Xavier? I think Miss Pugh should stay here with Doctor Huntingdown to help your daughter if the need arises.”
“Good thinking Jayes,” Richmond said, “that way if court proceedings come, we have our witnesses. Rhymaes, Mrs. Xavier, would you come with us please?”
“I’ll be back soon,” I whispered as I kissed Gladys, and followed Jayes and Annie out of the house, across the brazier lit drive and into the chapel.
“Right,” Jack said as Jayes closed the chapel doors. “Just what is it you think I have done, Flaherty – apart from seeking the best peace our country could get.”
“Nelly’s pregnant – and she says you did it.”
“That’s not possible, Flaherty.”
“Why not, Richmond?”
Annie, Jayes and I watched Jack Richmond as he seemed to whisper something, and then said “It just isn’t – believe me on that.”
“Not enough man to admit you were a man, you yellow bellied coward…”
“Nobody calls a Richmond a coward,” Old Man Richmond said as Jayes stepped forward. “Gentlemen, if I may offer a suggestion?”
“I merely wished to point out that, as a duly appointed official of The Agency, I asked Mister Rhymaes and Mrs. Xavier here as members in good standing to sit in witness of my attempts to negotiate a resolution to this disagreement.”
I stared at Jayes, wondering if he had finally lost his marbles, and then at Annie, but she looked at me and simply nodded.
Old Man Richmond looked at me and said “Any idea what he’s talking about Rhymaes?”
“It’s all right Thomas,” Jack said, “I understand. The offer is most gratefully accepted, but not here. I have a place we can talk.”
“Tommy,” Jack Richmond said as he put his hand on his brother’s shoulder, “I’ll sort this out. Go and be with Annabel and Shelagh. This is her night, and tell them I love them.”
Her father looked at them, then nodded as he left the chapel. Jack went to the side and pressed on a panel, opening a passage before he picked up one of the torches burning on the wall.
“Down here,” he said, the Flaherty men going in front and me, Annie and Jayes taking up the rear.
“Jayes,” I whispered, “what in the name of creation have you got us into?”
“My apologies, Sir, Madam,” he said as he nodded to each of us, “but it seemed best that Mister Richmond be kept out of this. It is my experience that the Irish temperament can lead to unexpected expressions of a passionate and violent nature. By invoking the Agency, an organization both sides recognize, I hope to avoid such situations.”
We emerged in a round room, the passage carrying on to the other side, and Jack Richmond went into a side room, returning with a bottle and four glasses.
“Let us drink before we settle – what do you say my man?”
“Thank you, Sir, but it would be improper of me to do so. I must also decline for the other witnesses.”
“As ye wish,” Jack said as he poured four drinks, the men taking a glass each as they raised them and drained them in one. It was like watching a strange variation of a game at the club, but Jayes merely smiled as he said “Mister Flaherty, state your complaint.”
“You,” the taller brother said as he looked at Jack Richmond, “have deflowered our sister. What are you going to do about it?”
“And how is this miracle supposed to have happened?”
“Are ye an idiot, Black Jack?”
“Oh no – but I swear by the Holy Father it cannot be me who has done this.”
“And I say you have.”
“Mister Richmond,” Jayes said, “what makes you so certain you cannot have committed this act.”
“I will not say,” Richmond replied with a scowl, “but be assured it cannot be me.”
“I will not.”
“This is getting a little fruity,” I whispered to Annie. “And since when have you been a member in good standing?”
“I could ask you the same question, Mister Rhymaes,” Annie whispered back, “but in my case, my late husband was a member, and Jayes persuaded me to sign up.”
“Have I heard of you?”
“You might say I move like a ghost, Mister Rhymaes.”
Well, you could have knocked me down with a copy of the NY Post at that. I was saved by Jayes saying, “Perhaps, Mister Flaherty, if Mister Richmond were to tell me why he is certain, you would accept my judgment of the veracity of his statement?”
“I would,” Flaherty said, as Jack Richmond whispered into Jayes’ ear. I could see what he heard disturbed him slightly, but his face did not reveal anything else, as he turned to the brothers and said “I ask you to accept when I say his explanation makes it clear he cannot be responsible for your sister’s condition.”
The two other men looked at their brother, who nodded and said, “I accept your judgment as an official of the Agency. But if not you, then who?”
“I don’t know,” Jack said as he poured more drinks, “but I’m truly sorry. If I can do anything…”
“Let’s drink her health,” Flaherty said as they raised their glasses again and drained them. “Ah – where did you get that, Black Jack?”
“The guy who rents the barn by the shore – Vecchio – he does business with Capone up Chicago way. He usually does right by us.”
“Perhaps we can now leave you to your discussion, gentlemen. Mister Rhymaes, Mrs. Xavier, if we may return?”
“Hold fast,” Jack said as he took a torch from the wall and walked to the burning fire, “Ye’ll need a light for the tunnel.”
“Most thoughtful,” Jayes said as he took the torch, and we left them to return to the chapel.
“That went well, if I may say so Sir,” Jayes said, but a minute later we heard a scream – a female scream, and then three shots.
“I fear the worst sir,” Jayes said as we hurried back, to see Black Jack holding a woman, the smoking pistol still in her hand.
Looking to his line of sight, I saw the three men sitting against the wall, a wound in each of their foreheads, and large knifes on the floor near their hands.
“My god Shelagh,” Jack Richmond said, “what have you done?”
“I saved your life, Jack,” Shelagh Richmond said quietly, “and took revenge for the insult they paid to me and to my family tonight.”
“But you’ve killed them,” Jack whispered.
“May I, madam,” Jayes said as he took the gun from Mrs. Richmond’s hand and placed it on the table. “Mrs. Xavier, may I impose on you to escort Mrs. Richmond back to the house, and call her husband to sit with her. Discretely, please.”
“No problem,” Annie said as she took Mrs. Richmond by the arm, saying, “come with me” as they walked down the corridor.
“Mister Richmond,” Jayes said quietly, “I must ask you to do a very brave thing, to preserve the name of the Richmond family.”
Jack Richmond looked to him, and slowly nodded his head. “I’ll disappear – the tunnel comes out at a boat house. I’ll go over the bay and head back to the mother land.”
“First, we must move these men to this side room – there to rest in peace,” Jayes said, “If we can do the honours?”
It wasn’t a pleasant task, but we moved them into the room, and watched as Jack Richmond closed the door. “I misjudged you – and you,” he said as he looked at us, “good luck tae both of you.”
“And to you, Mister Richmond,” Jayes said as he shook Richmond’s hand, and then watched him walk down the other half of the corridor.
“Jayes, what in the name of God happened here tonight?”
“We saw a man wronged and a woman take charge,” Jayes said quietly, “and hell hath no fury like a woman wronged. Come Sir – we must return and ensure Mrs. Richmond is safe,”
Shirley stopped and looked up as the room sat in silence.
“So Black Jack took the blame to save the family name – disappearing into the mists while we continued to be accepted into society,” Vanessa said as she looked at Alex and Sandy. “I suggest nobody outside this room passes this information on.”
She looked at Juliette, Diana and the other members of their family, Jo and Curt, Adam and Tom, and the others, all of them nodding.
“What about George and Allison? They went to look after the children.”
“No – not yet,” Vanessa said, “We need to deal with this ourselves first.”
“I suddenly have a great respect for the man,” Alex said quietly, “but how can we know this is true.”
“Because I have Shelagh’s confession.”
The room turned as Winston took an envelope from his pocket. “When we opened the whiskey store, I found this envelope. It is dated 1935, and contains the statement of Shelagh Richmond of the events of that night. It matches that account – she slipped into the boat house entrance of the passage, and heard the men talking. Jack demanded an apology to his brother and the family, and Flaherty refused. She saw them draw knives, and – well, the rest you know.”
“According to the diary,” Shirley continued, “The next morning, your great grandfather swore them to secrecy over what had happened.”
“That mention of an Agency and a ghost – were Rhymaes and your ancestor spies Shirley?”
“Well, you will forgive me if I do not confirm or deny that – but my family has certainly helped my government in the past,” Shirley said quietly.
“We need to wait until the morning, have some level of confirmation from the NYPD,” Tom said, “but if it looks like they are the Flaherty boys, then the mystery is solved. Question is, do we make it public?”
“No – not yet,” Alex said. “I have a plan, but we need to do this in the right way. I ask you to leave it with me for now.”
The room nodded as Alex said “and as for the other find – so we want to call in the FTA on this?”
“I might get into trouble for this,” Tom said, “but no – let’s see what’s up there in the cold light of day.”
"Can I say that for one I'd like to see the treasures that Vecchio hid from Capone." Valeria spoke. "If the Cognac is good it should be very drinkable.”
"The whiskey shouldn't be too bad either." Ken spoke.
"Well with the vintage wine I found in the cellar, I can't see us needing to buy drink in too often when the saints and Sinners congregate." Alex's laugh boomed out.
“All right,” Adam said, “Winston, you and I will liberate a barrel of each tomorrow. Neither of us are drinking tomorrow anyway, so you can all sample it. Everyone, we did good work today.”
“One thing, Shirley – does that diary say why Jack could not have been the father?”
“No, I’m afraid not,” Shirley said.
“What about the Agency records?”
“That does,” Shirley whispered in reply to Juliette, “Jack Richmond was injured in the Irish Civil War – very badly and personally injured.”
“Oh,” Juliette whispered, “I see.”
“Right, everyone,” Sandy said, “let’s have some music and a drink – it’s been a long and exciting day, and I want to relax.”
“Amen to that,” Vanessa said quietly, “Amen to that.”
Monday 6th April
The morning sun found the park filled with the sounds of people talking and playing as they enjoyed the last part of the weekend. Two of the younger women were taking a leisurely walk in their summer dresses, wide brimmed hats shading their heads from the spring sunshine.
“It’s a beautiful morning,” Doc said as she and Nell walked down one of the estate roads, a distance from the other lodges.
“It’s been a wonderful – if different weekend,” Nell said as she looked round, holding her large hat on her head. “Back to the grindstone tomorrow though.”
“Yeah,” Doc said as they turned and walked along another road. “When did she say she would be here?”
“I think that’s her now,” Nell said as they saw a Lotus parked on the estate drive. As they approached, the driver’s door opened and Kerry Hull stepped out of the car. But this was a very different Kerry Hull. Her long red hair was tightly curled, as it fell over her shoulders, and her makeup was impeccable, her eyebrows shaped, her lips full and red.
Her looks and her hair were not the only thing that had changed. She had lost weight, and was wearing a pair of black skintight satin pants, with a white silk blouse on her upper body, the ends at the front tied under her chest to reveal her midriff. She removed the large dark glasses and looked at both of them.
“That’s a different look – weekend theme party?”
“Yeah – celebrating the past glories of this place,” Doc said as they stopped in front of her.
"I like the tan Kerry, it's wonderful what a few
days in Miami can do." Nell spoke.
"How did you? ... Oh,” Kerry said quietly, “can I
take it that is why I got summoned out here, and why HE has jammed up my answer
"It's safe to say that." Doc answered,
looking serious as she folded her arms.
"Well I've done what you said and haven't spoken
to him yet."
"Good," answered Nell. "Kerry there is
one question I need to ask before we start...Are you in love with Ed Mitchell?"
"Good Grief, of course I'm not." Kerry
raised an eyebrow. “What on earth gave
you that idea?”
"Well Saturday night he told his wife you were
and they had the hugest of arguments."
"Well he was a very silly boy then," Kerry said
as she smiled.
"So you were just out for what you could get
Kerry?" asked Doc.
"Well Angel,” Kerry said as she looked at the
young girl, “it was you who brought the whore out in me."
"I know...and for that I'm sorry."
"Why be sorry Angel,” Kerry whispered, “I adore the new me."
“Nevertheless,” Nell said quietly, “you are about to find yourself in a divorce court as the other woman, if you don’t cut the ties PDQ.”
“Why should I? He treats me very well…”
“With her money,” Doc said quietly. “She’s ordered an audit on her accounts and frozen him out. If she comes after you, you will have a lot of explaining to do.”
“You make a fair argument, Angel,” Kerry said with a smile. “All right – I’ll drop him like the hot potato, and beat a dignified retreat. Another two months and I’m out of school anyway – and then watch me.”
“Well, until then lay low – and stay away from him, Kerry. The last thing you need right now is a lawsuit around your neck.”
“There are worse things, you know Nell.”
“Yes, we do,” Doc said quietly.
“Well, seeing I’m out here, I may take a drive into Southampton, have a look round, and see what I can see.
“A tip then – don’t go near the Long Island Hotel. Reports are he’s in there drowning his sorrows.”
“I think I understand.”
“Thank you for coming all the way out here, Kerry – and good luck.”
“You’ve changed Angel – become soft.”
“I’m glad you think so,” Doc said with a smile. “But get one thing straight. If the shit hits you, and my name is mentioned, I will deny ever meeting you, and leave you out to dry. I trust we understand each other?”
“Oh I think we do,” Kerry said as she put her glasses back on. “You opened my eyes – thank you.”
The two girls watched as she got behind the wheel of her car and drove off. “What have I done,” Doc said as she shook her head.
“Created your very own Creature,” Nell said, “and we’re going to have to live with that for the rest of our lives.”
As Kerry drove off the estate, she passed Allison driving back in. “A redhead? Could that be her,” she thought as she tried to see the licence plate, and then saw Doc and Nell walking to the house.
“Curiouser and curiouser…”
"I don't think it will take Kerry long to find
another sugar daddy." Angel said as she shook her head.
"How much do you think she took him for?"
"Well that Lotus didn't come cheap for
starters....nor the diamond earrings."
"So how do you think Ed will take it?"
"Very badly...wouldn't you?"
"Yes." Nell shook her head. "To think
we created that gold digger."
"No,” Nell said quietly, “that girl was always in Kerry, we just released her."
As they approached the house, they saw Juliette standing in the doorway.
“Nell, Ally was looking for you – she went down to the Beach Shack.”
“Gotcha – see you later Juliette,” Nell said as she headed across the lawn.
“We’re in the library,” Juliette said as she and Doc headed across the hallway. As they went into the library, she saw Caroline, Shirley and Diana sitting there.
"Well?" asked Juliette as she closed the
"It's not good. Kerry has become a very tough
young lady, if he's got no money to spend on her she's dropping him." Doc
didn't smile as she spoke.
"Will she keep a low profile?" asked
"I think so, a messy involvement is not going to
help her hook a new man eager to keep her in the style she wants to become
"You know I almost feel sorry for the poor
bastard." Shirley shook her head.
"I feel guilty, I blackmailed her into
"You didn't blackmail her into staying one though
Anna." Caroline nodded.
"So how do we smooth things out to keep the scandal as low key as possible?" Juliette asked.
"In that Kerry was very much my creation, I'd
like to say that Mrs. Mitchell should be reimbursed from my trust fund."
Doc looked downwards. "It's unfair to her not to get her money back as the
results of my actions."
"So you don't favor squeezing Kerry to return
some of the 'presents' she received'?" asked Juliette.
"What's the point, we hurt Kerry she knows too
much about how Angelic Escorts functioned, better to leave her alone to seek
out her own destiny."
"Doc darling you have a point there." Diana
"And well since none of you were involved with Angelic Escorts it's only right I make up the losses." Doc looked round.
“A noble sentiment,” Juliette said, “but we are family, and we share the load. Or at least, in this case I do. I will take half the share, and you the other half.”
“Are you sure Juliette?”
“Doc, Anna is an old friend. I will not see her go wanting because of this. Ed, on the other hand – I will reserve judgment on that.”
“Do I take that to mean he may join the list?”
“Let us say he is on our radar,” Juliette said quietly. “Anna, you have done the right thing today, and that will be remembered.”
Doc smiled as there was a knock on the door.
“Sorry,” Heather said as she came in,” Am I interrupting?”
“No I think we’re done – Anna, has she gone back to the city?”
“No, she said she was going into Southampton, why?”
“Let me have her number – I wish to have a quick word with her as well.”
Anna nodded as she took out her cell phone.
“I got some information from the archives,” Heather said, “Special Branch reports relating to Jack Richmond and the Flaherty’s. Turned out Richmond actually saved their lives – he helped them get out of Dublin at personal cost to himself.”
“Funny way they had of showing their gratitude,” Caroline said quietly. “I have one other question.”
“How did Shelagh’s confession end up with the whisky and brandy? She wrote it a year after the event, and entrusted it to the one man she could trust not to say anything – Jimmy Vecchio. My best guess is she asked him to hold on to it, but when Capone went after him – well, he hid it with the liquor.”
“But who got the Flaherty sister pregnant?”
“We’ll probably never know – some mysteries should remain a mystery.” Juliette took out her cell phone and dialed a number.
“Kerry? This is Juliette Huntingdown speaking. I believe you know a friend of mine – Anna Mitchell.
“Good – I would like to see you for five minutes, today. Where may I find you?
“No, just me – you’ve caused her enough pain.
“All right – 1 pm, at the town hall. I will see you there.”
As she ended the call, Mary looked in and said “they’re here.”
“Excellent – excuse me a moment,” Juliette said as she came out and greeted the new arrivals.
“Girls thanks for coming out today,” she said as Janine stood with Mary. “I’d like you to meet your clients for today.”
She turned and smiled as Paulie came in with Vanessa.
“What’s going on,” Vanessa said as she looked at the two women.
“My way of saying thank you,” Juliette said. “You go with these two lovely ladies, and Mary will join you later.”
“Once I take you down to the Widow’s Cottage,” Mary said to Janine. “Marina is there just now.”
“What are they going to do to me,” Vanessa said quietly.
“Complete the job of reviving Nessa Richmond – go to it, girls. I’ll be back later – once I’ve run a small errand.”
Portsmouth Long Island Hotel
Allison walked into the bar and saw Ed, sitting at a table, looking a little more sober than yesterday.
“How are you today, Ed,” she said as she sat down.
“Looking for an apartment,” he said quietly. “How’s the party?”
“Winding down – but some things are still
happening. I saw a redhead in a Lotus
leaving the estate Ed." Allison smiled as she looked at him.
"She was out here?"
"I think she may have been chatting with a couple of people."
“Why on earth would she come out here and not see me?”
“I think they’ve warned her off you, to be honest.”
“Who? Angel herself?”
“I don’t know – she knows Nell Rochermann, could she be Angel?”
“Nah – her mother would never allow it. She’s a real control freak if she wants to be, despite the liberties she lets those girls take.”
“Never mind Ed – I’m sure you’ll get your own back soon.”
“No? Why not?”
“I don’t want or need to rock the boat any more. I’ll quietly let her go, a quickie divorce. No pain, no fuss. Besides, I took her for quite a lot of money already.”
“But this Madame Angel? Aren’t you curious as to who she is?”
“No – she’s disappeared anyway. Haven’t you a husband to go home to?”
Allison stood up, glaring at Ed, and then walked out. As she left the hotel, she saw Juliette pull up and walk towards the centre of town. Curiosity overwhelming her, she followed from a distance, until she walked towards the town hall.
Sitting on a bench was the red headed girl from the morning.
“You must be Kerry,” Juliette said as she walked over, “Fancy a drink?”
The redhead nodded as they walked into a nearby bar, Allison following and then slipping into a seat behind the pillar next to their booth.
“I was surprised to get your call,” she heard the redhead say.
“Anna Mitchell is an old friend – I don’t want to see her hurt any more than she already has been by that two-timing husband of hers. No offence.”
“None taken. Do you know Madame Angel?”
“I do, actually.”
“So what do you want to say to me?”
“I trust you have been paid well for your efforts?”
“I cannot complain,” Kerry said as she sipped her drink. “Go on, ask.”
“Are you still a prostitute?”
“Such an ugly word, but you asked a straight question,
so you deserve a straight answer. Yes
I'm a whore Miss Huntingdown - and I don't apologise for it. If men are stupid
enough to give me expensive things, or pay me to let them fuck me, why should I
"Well at least you are honest about it
Kerry." Juliette smiled. "There is an honesty in what you just said
that I almost admire."
"But we aren't here to talk about me are
"No we are here to talk about my friend, and how
we can rectify the damage you have helped cause to her life."
Allison listened intently from her hiding place.
"Miss Huntingdown, what is mine is mine, I earned
every single thing letting that disgusting creep touch me."
"I'm not in a position to criticise Kerry. Madame
Angel and I will make good my friend’s financial losses."
Kerry sat back and looked at Juliette.
“Well, I can't say I saw that coming."
"I just request that you keep yourself well out
of her vision until this all dies down."
"And if I don't?"
"Let’s just say I know some very famous bad
ladies who might just pay you a call."
Juliette Huntingdown was threatening the whore. Allison tried to remember every word.
“Madame Angel made a similar threat. I believed her – why should I believe you?”
“Because I’m telling the truth – and I have no desire to see you hurt.”
Allison could not believe this as Kerry said “all right – I’ll stay out of the way of both of them.”
“Good – stay safe Kerry.”
Allison sat back into the shadows as Juliette walked past. So she was threatening this woman – there was something hidden about her.
"Juliette Huntingdown was certainly far more then she seemed to be...Maybe Ed was right - she was the one to watch?" Allison thought deeply as she left the bar.
“All right,” Alex said as he and Gus came into the drawing room, “why have we been asked to step in here for a few minutes?”
“You’ll see in a minute or two, Alex,” Mary said, “and
thank you for driving the girls out from town Janine."
"My pleasure Mary,” the young blonde said as she
sat with Marina, “I was dying to get a look at this house."
"Well what do you think?" Vanessa asked as she and Paulie emerged, followed by the hairdresser and makeup artist.
“Lord bless me,” Alex said, “You look – amazing.”
Vanessa smiled as she posed in her silver flapper style dress, her hair cut in a bob and highlighted, the professional makeup making her look so different, like an older sister to Sandy.
Paulie was wearing a cream silk toga style dress with matching heels, her hair cut in a style that highlighted her cheekbones, her long legs slipping through the slits in her skirt.
"I think people will think I have taken a sexy younger mistress." Gus van Roon smiled as he carefully kissed his wife to avoid smudging her makeup.
"For a couple of old broads we haven't cleaned up
too badly." Vanessa smiled as she checked her reflection.
"Well I think you can both chop 25 years off your
ages and get away with it." Mary shook her head.
"You should get the girls to do you Mary."
Janine looked round.
"Oh no - I don't have the figure both Nessa and
Paulie have, I'd look all wrong, now maybe Katherine might get away with it…"
"Mary darling...Thank you." Vanessa hugged
her old friend. "I think we have buried the Vanessa I forced myself to be,
and this woman, the old Nessa has found she can safely come out again."
"It's about time." Gus smiled.
"Well Shirley do you think they look good?"
Gus asked as Madame entered the room.
"Oh my yes...You must let John take
"If we don't crack the lens." Paulie
"John! ... Bring your Leica!" Shirley
"Why? “John came in and took in the scene
quickly. “Oh... Oh now I see ... Ladies
you look so beautiful."
"Can we give Shirley a run for her money
"Maybe not with me Vanessa." John smiled at Shirley, "But I'm sure you'll find no shortage of new men interested in you."
He started to take their picture as they posed for him, laughing and smiling.
"I once heard something rather disgusting about
women our age and sex Ness..."
"We don't yell, we don't swell, we don't tell,
and we are as grateful as hell." Nessa laughed, "I'm the one who told
you, and dear lord was that more than a few years ago now."
"Have you? Well since?"
"Not since long before he died, he always thought
I'd got cold and frigid."
"And had you Ness?" Paulie asked.
"No," Nessa shook her head, "I'd simply
transformed myself into my mother."
"And I remember what your mother thought about
sex." Paulie shook her head.
"After I gave birth sex seemed somewhat
pointless, he was never much good at it, and finally having Sandy to look after
I guess I just cut him off, eventually he moved into a separate bedroom and I
never complained once."
"Not once Ness?" Paulie asked quizzically.
"No...and I suppose that's something I will have to apologise to him for one day.”
"Well do you like my new look girls?" Paulie
asked Pussy and Liz as they walked in.
"Mother! - You look incredible!" Liz
"Well with Nessa making herself over, I thought
it was probably time I did as well."
"Whoa, you look like a cougar man-trap Mom."
"Thank you darling...I think." Paulie looked
a trifle bemused for a second.
"You look terrific is what I'm saying." Puss
smiled some more.
"Well your father and I have decided to reopen the New York house, and not cut off ourselves out here anymore."
“That’s wonderful – we can see much more of each other then.”
“And we can see a lot more of each other – which reminds me Nessa. Gus, is it here?”
“I knew there was a reason you asked me to bring it – will you step outside please ladies?”
The group went outside, Nessa staring at the red ’64 Corvette that was parked outside.
“Oh my,” she said quietly, “where did you get that?”
“Honestly? From your father.”
Nessa and Alex looked at Gus as he said “This, Vanessa, was meant to be your eighteenth birthday present. When things happened, your dad auctioned it rather than give you it – so I bought it. And now, it can rightfully be yours.”
He tossed the keys to Nessa, who ran down the stairs and got in, Paulie getting in beside her as she started the car.
“We’ll see you later,” Nessa shouted out as they drove off down the avenue, the others waving them off.
“Truly Amazing,” Alex said as they walked back in.
“Alex, have you seen Juliette?”
“She drove into town, Klaus – she should be back in…”
The men watched as Ingrid walked up the stairs, muttering “stupid, stupid, stupid…”
“What’s wrong with Ingrid?”
“I honestly do not know, Alex…”
“Ah Alex – come with me please,” Valeria said from the ballroom, “Tom and Adam have brought a barrel of each of the drinks from the Barn House…”
Ingrid walked up to Carina’s door and walked in without knocking.
"Can you believe his cheek Cari?" she
screamed as she pushed the door shut, and turned round.
"INGY!" Carina shouted, as she tried to pull
the sheet over her and Annie.
"Whoops...SORRY!" Ingrid laughed as Annie
gave her a cross look.
"Sister darling, your timing stinks."
"I'll say it does." Annie grumbled.
"So what was so important you just barged
"Would you believe Adam Cabot has had the cheek
to ring and ask me out on a date?"
"He did?" Cari said as she kissed Annie.
"So what did you say?" Annie asked, knowing
she wasn't going to have the pleasure of her lover’s attention till this was
"I said yes for some stupid reason." Ingrid
sat on the edge of the bed. "By the way darling, you are my sister not my
brother?" she pointed at the tenting under the sheet.
"It's my strap-on...and what made you do
that?" Cari asked.
"I don't know."
“Can you get out of it?”
“I can try – but if I cannot, what do I do?”
“Take a deep breath and hope he takes you somewhere nice,” Cari said. “Listen, Ingy, I love you, but…”
“Oh yeah – right – I’ll talk to you later,” Ingy said as she backed out.
“Now,” Annie said, “where were we…”
The teenagers were sat in the main room of the Widow’s Cottage, talking and sharing an unfortunate truth.
"We are all back to school on Wednesday." Abby grimaced. “Just when I was getting relaxed as well.”
"At least we have a couple weeks before we need to head home." Tony said before he kissed her.
"I'm working while you lot enjoy yourself in
school." Angel sighed.
"I'll swap." Jeannie laughed as she sat
cradled in House's lap.
"Jack and Billy are planning to take me and Nikki
out every night till they go home." Pepsi smiled contentedly.
"It's the problem with long distance couples, we
have to all crowd so much in while we are together." Tony spoke again.
"I know...but it can be so worth it." Abby
now smiled, as she remembered Tony's lovemaking to her the previous two nights.
"Still no guy caught your eye Angel?" House
"If one has, my sister's keeping awfully quiet
about it." Jack looked at her.
"No still no men." Angel rolled her eyes.
"We don't all need sex you know?"
"Some of us aren't getting sex." Jeannie
laughed as she dug Winston in the ribs.
"You mean you two still haven't?" Tony
looked surprised. "Winston I think you've hurt your head playing football,
you maybe need to get Ken to check you out."
"I tried seducing him on my birthday but the rat’s
strong moral principles won out." Jeannie kissed Winston.
"I just want it to be special." House
blushed. “Is that so wrong?”
"Winston dear chap you are dating a woman of
almost unsurpassed beauty, she gives you the green light and you turned her
down?" Jack spoke slightly in shock.
"She's still only 15 Jack."
"See chivalry isn't dead." Pepsi looked at Jack.
"Nicola my love remember it was you seduced me." Jack smiled at Pepsi.
“Oh yeah – that’s right,” Pepsi said as they kissed again.
“So what of young Ama and Maisha?”
“Well, Ama has Nick, the boy who is not her boyfriend,” Doc said as she looked at her friend.
“Well, maybe he is my boyfriend,” Ama blushed, “but he is also a very good friend.”
“What about you Maisha?”
“No – there is not a boy in my life at the moment,” Maisha said, “my studies keep me busy.”
“What about you Kylie?”
“Nah – and with me going to Hong Kong now, that’s probably just as well.”
“Man, this car moves like a dream,” Nessa said as they drove through Plymouth, and then pulled over as they saw Juliette heading to her car.
“Well now, I see the girls did a great job,” Juliette said as she looked at them. “Having fun?”
“Oh yes – see you at the house later,” Nessa said as they watched Juliette walk off.
“Isn’t that Allison over there,” Paulie said, the two women watching as the blonde walked past without looking at them.
“Yeah – now why is she walking after Ju,” Nessa said as she watched her walk quickly down the road.
“Hi,” Anna Mitchell said as she joined the other ladies in the drawing room, “may I join you?”
“Of course, Anna,” Mary said as she made room for her, “How are you today?”
“Better, thanks. You’ve all been great friends this weekend, but I need to head back to – Janine? What are you doing out here?”
“Juliette called this morning, to arrange a makeover for Mrs. Richmond and Mrs. van Roon.”
“Well, can you give me a lift back? I have some things to sort out at home.”
“Sure – I’m heading back after lunch.”
“Thanks – I need to find out just how much damage that bastard did.”
Janine raised an eyebrow as she looked at Mary, but the older woman just shook her head and said “don’t ask.”
“Well, at any rate he can’t touch me any more – I spoke to my lawyer this morning and started the ball rolling. He’ll be out of my life soon enough – which would just leave one thing to do.”
“Oh,” Sheila said as she sat quietly, “and what’s that?”
“Find the bitch and scratch her eyes out.”
“If I was you, darling,” Mandy said, “I’d rise above that. Let her find someone else to sink her claws into – and then tip him off.”
“Sound advice – except for the claws bit,” Juliette said as she came in. “Honestly, Anna – just forget about him and her.”
Janice looked at Tom, Adam at the others in the library. “NYPD confirm the details we’ve sent them match those in the archives of the Flaherty brothers. They’re going to send a team up tomorrow to remove the bodies and collect our findings.”
“I’ll let Vanessa and Alex know – means they may have to stay out here another day,” Tom said with a sigh. “Some bad news to go with the good news.”
“What good news?”
“I talked to my contacts at the FTA today. They say the cache we found is of historical interest now, but it’s been so long, in return for a donation to an alcohol treatment centre they’ll let the matter lie.”
“It’s strange, seeing history play out in front of us,” John said to Curt.
“I know – I wonder if they would be willing to let me write this up as a research paper?”
“Give it a little time Curt,” Adam said quietly, “let them decide how and when they wish to go public – if ever. Sometimes, it is better to say nothing to preserve everything.”
“Where did Vanessa go?”
“Out for a drive with Paulie – wait until you see what we did to them,” Janine said with a smile.
“You will be astonished – both of them,” Gus said as he came in with Alex.
“Can Adam and I have a word with both of you,” Tom said as he stood up, Adam following him as they left the room.
“When Jan called the NYPD, they also said they’d arrested a PI for opening confidential hospital records,” Adam said as they stood in a huddle in the hallway.
“Oh,” Gus whispered, “Vanessa’s?”
“It’s all right – Gus told me he told you,” Alex said quietly.
“Same hospital, but he’s not revealing if he hacked her records, or who may have paid him to do so. They’ll get it out of him eventually however.”
“Thanks, Adam,” Alex said as he put his hand on the young man’s shoulder.
“There you are,” Juliette said as she and Shirley watched Nessa and Paulie pull up. “And where did you get this beauty from?”
“Believe it or not, a late birthday present,” Nessa said as she opened the door, her long legs coming out first as Paulie came out on the other side. “A very late one. How are things here?”
“We’re starting to think about leaving – some of us anyway. Have you seen Allison? George was looking for her earlier.”
“I think she went out for a while – probably took Jennifer for a walk.”
“Nope – Sigi and Alice have been watching Judith and Jennifer. I’ll take a walk round – maybe she went to visit one of the other houses.”
“No it’s all right – I want to go down to the Widow’s House anyway, and see how Susan is. Marina said she was feeling a bit tired today.”
As Nessa walked down the drive, Paulie watched with admiration. “You finally helped bring her back,” she whispered to Juliette. “I wonder why she didn’t tell you though.”
“Tell me what?”
“We saw Allison in town – following you.”
“Probably didn’t think it was important,” Juliette said, but in her mind she had one question.
“Well,” Winston said as he looked at his watch, “I really hate to say this folks, but we need to think about getting ready to go back.” He lifted Jeannie gently off his lap and placed her in the wheelchair, before saying “I’m going back up to the big house – anyone else coming?”
“I’d better,” Abby said as she stood up with Tony, “Jo’s up there already, and I want to say goodbye to the others.”
“I’ll come up with you,” Tony said as they left.
“Come on,” Ally said to Nell, Doc and Nikki, as they and Ama stood up.
“Oh – I do hope I’m not interrupting,” Allison said as she looked in.
“Not at all, Mrs. Graham,” Doc said, “we were just heading back up to the main house.”
“Ah – well, I won’t keep you too long, I just wanted to ask if any of you girls had any idea who this Kerry who hurt Anna Mitchell might be. She’s not that much older than you by all accounts.”
“No, can’t say we do,” Doc said as she looked at Allison. “Why are you asking?”
“Oh, I don’t know – I would love to meet this girl, that’s all. Well, perhaps I can find this Madame Angel instead – what do you think?”
“Sorry Mrs. Graham,” Ally said as the girls headed for the door, “no idea what you’re talking about. We’d better get a move on before the search parties come out for us.”
Allison watched the girls walk out, thinking through why they would have lied. Anna Carlton and Nell Rochermann definitely knew who Kerry was – had Juliette warned them as well.
“Allison? What brings you down here?”
“Sorry if I disturbed you Susan,” Allison said as the heavily pregnant woman came down the stairs, “I was just looking for Juliette.”
“She’s up at the main house,” Vanessa said as she appeared in the doorway.
“Vanessa? Love the new look – did Merlin work her magic on you as well?”
Allison could not believe the change in her host – she really looked more like Sandy now than anyone else.
“Allison, George was looking for you up there as well – I think you should go and join him.”
“Yes – yes, of course,” Allison said as she turned and left the room.
“Are you all right, Aunt Susan,” Kylie said as Susan sat herself down.
“Yeah – just a bit uncomfortable that’s all. Could you fetch me a drink of water, please,” Susan said. Kylie went into the kitchen, as Nessa looked at her.
“Do you want me to ask Karen to pop down, Susan?”
“I think that might be a good idea,” Susan said as she grimaced for a moment, “and sooner rather than later.”
“You got it,” Nessa said as Kylie returned with the water. “Kylie, would you mind sitting with your aunt for a few minutes?”
“Sure thing, Mrs. Richmond.”
“Thank you,” Nessa said as she left the house and Marina came in. She took one look at Susan and said “Clint?”
“I’ll fetch him – he’s at the Barn House,” Marina said as she quickly walked out.
“Sooz, it’s not starting is it?”
“Bloody good question, Kylie,” Susan said as she grimaced again, “bloody good question.”
“Karen, could you possibly come to the Widow’s Cottage please?”
Karen Boyd looked at Vanessa as Caroline and Shirley came through. “Susan?”
Nessa nodded as Karen looked at her. “I’m coming too,” Caroline said as the two women headed out of the door.
“What’s happening,” Penny said as she came back in.
“I think Susan’s time may have come – did George find Allison?”
“Well Allison’s back – I saw her heading for the nursery.”
“Thank you,” Nessa said as she headed for the stairs.
“There you are,” George said as he saw Allison come in, “where have you been hiding all afternoon?”
“Sorry – had some things to deal with,” Allison said as she took Jennifer from where she had been rolling a ball with Judith and Suzanne McKinnon.
“Is everything all right, Allison,” Carina said as she came in, and picked Judith up.
“Oh everything’s fine, nothing to worry about,” Allison said, “and where have you been all afternoon?”
“With Annie, actually – why?”
“Oh, I was just curious that’s all – does Annie mind been Judith’s other mother?”
“She has absolutely no problem with it,” Carina said quietly. “Do you?”
“I think we’d better go and start packing our bags,” George said, “Come along darling.”
Carina watched as they left, Alice watching from the side.
“Bad blood between you two?”
“Just a deep mutual hatred – nothing unusual,” Carina said quietly. Inside, the Beast was screaming, but she kept her quiet – like it or not, Allison counted as family.
For the moment.
“Is something wrong, Carina?”
“Oh no, Vanessa,” Carina said with a smile. “Just a bit of indigestion.”
“I asked Karen to go to the Widow’s Cottage.”
Carina and Alice looked at each other. “Susan?”
“Indeed Carina – I think she may have started.”
Alice nodded as she said “Good luck to her in that case…”
“Susan might be going into labour.”
Juliette smiled and said “Good luck to her – but we need to pack.”
“Already done mom – Annie is taking the bags down while I get baby ready.”
"I apologise for barging in earlier Annie."
Ingrid whispered as they loaded the old vintage car for the drive back to New
"I've got to say, though - it was strange seeing
my sister looking for all the world like a man with an erection under the
"Well I may be a lesbian now, but I still enjoy...well you know what I like." Annie smiled.
“I can imagine – forgive me, but…”
“Yes, we take turns – hello Aunt Sigi.”
“Hello you two,” Sigi said as she and Dieter walked up, “We just came to say goodbye to Alex and Vanessa. We will see you at the apartment later?”
“Assuming no traffic problems, yes. You know we’re invited to dinner tomorrow at Diana’s place?”
“Oh yes – a nice normal meal. Should make a nice change.”
Annie turned to see Carina coming down the front stairs, carrying Judith.
“Are you all right, Carina,” Annie said as Vanessa followed her out,
“I’ll tell you later,” Carina said as she strapped Judith in. “Mom and Dad?”
"We need to be thinking about heading for home
Allison my love." George said as he pointed at his watch.
"In a bit George,” Allison said as she headed for
the door, “can you watch Jennifer while I do a couple of things?"
"I suppose I can start packing, just try not to
be too long please."
"I won't." Allison smiled an odd smile as
she headed out the door.
"Okay my little angel, you can watch while Daddy packs." George created a place with the pillows for the little one to sit up. Jennifer gurgled happily as George rubbed her head.
"Alright my case first then your Mother's." George smiled as Jennifer became preoccupied with her rattle. He put his case on the bed and started to pack his clothes away.
As he packed George thought back over the weekend. All in all it had gone a lot better then he had worried it might. Allison had been livelier, more engaged with the world then she had been in a long while. Perhaps the new anti-depressants were finally working.
Which reminded him, he had better pack Allison's medications in with his own. He put his bottle of indigestion pills in his wash bag, and then went to the other side of the bed.
"Strange." he thought to himself as he
opened Allison's bedside draw and found an unopened bottle of the pills.
"Perhaps it's a new prescription and your Mommy hasn't started it
yet?" George smiled at Jennifer who looked like she was giggling away.
Just out of interest he checked the prescription date.
No - this was the bottle he'd picked up for her from the pharmacist 10 days
"That's odd, I thought she'd already finished the
previous one." George talked aloud to the baby.
Suddenly a thought occurred to George, "What if
Allison is off her medication?"
No that made no sense, she was so much better this weekend, she must just have had an old bottle of pills she'd finished up first. That had to be it.
Shaking his head clear of such thoughts George
remembered that he'd better pack the gun away. He hadn't wanted to bring it,
but Allison had pleaded, and he knew that she was comforted by the thought of
his having a loaded gun within reach of the bed.
He undid the bedside cabinet. For a moment his brain
froze...it wasn't there.
Instinctively he wondered if the maid had taken it,
but then he remembered Allison had asked Vanessa especially that only she
George and Jennifer go in the room, that she didn't need a maid to clean up,
and make the beds.
"Where the hell is the gun?" George asked himself.
“Alex, can I have a quick word?”
“Of course Adam,” Alex said as he sat in the library with Vanessa.
“Karen has asked me to tell you that she has gone with Clint and Susan to Southampton Hospital – the girls will come with us.”
“So her labour has started?”
“It appears so, she certainly seemed to be in a little discomfort. If it’s all right with you, Ken is going to stay in the main house until he hears from her.”
“Of course – he can stay as long as he needs,” Alex said. “Did you hear any more about the private investigator?”
“Actually, I did – tell me, did the Hughson you knew ever marry?”
“I remember seeing he did, why?”
Adam swallowed as he said “because the name he gave for his client was Allison Hughson.”
“Allison,” Juliette said as she closed her case, “what can I do for you?”
“I was just wondering if you could answer a little question for me, Juliette darling?”
“Oh – and what is that?”
“Who is Angel?”
Juliette looked directly at Allison and said “I beg your pardon?”
“I think you heard me, Juliette – who is Angel?”
“Allison, I have no idea what you are talking about.”
“Oh, I think you do,” Allison said with a smile. “I heard you talking to the mysterious Kerry today, you know.”
“Allison, I hate to ask, but have you been taking your medication?”
“Don’t change the subject, Juliette,” Allison said as she took the gun from her handbag and placed it on the bedside table. “I’m not scared of you, and I want you to know that.”
“Allison,” Juliette said, “I think you need to sit down for a minute, I haven’t seen anyone called Kerry today.”
“Just remember, I warned you,” Allison whispered as she put the gun back into her bag.
“Ready to go,” Klaus said as he came in.
“Of course,” Juliette said as Klaus took the bags. “Please, Allison, go and find George,” she said as she left.
“Gotcha,” Allison said. In her mind, she had scared Juliette – now for the others.
"How are preparations for Philadelphia going?" Penny asked Jo as they stood in the hallway.
"Not badly." Jo smiled.
"Should be a big thing." Penny smiled back
"What's going on in Philadelphia Joanne?"
Allison said as she suddenly came round the corner. "I thought you were
going to William Smith."
"Please try not to do that Mrs. Graham, you made
me jump coming out of nowhere like that." Jo put her hand to her heart,
but she was happy she'd not said aloud what she was going to tell Penny next.
"Jo was telling me about a conference for high
schoolers she's going to in Philadelphia." Penny lied...reasonably
"As I said it should be a big thing."
"Hmmm, well girls if I don't see you later I had
better say bye now." Allison walked off making a mental note about
"That bitch moves too silently." Jo
whispered to Penny.
"And she's got a long nose." Penny whispered back. “Why don’t you do something about her?”
“She’s family – off limits.”
Penny nodded. “She’s not my family though.”
“No – we can’t allow that,” Jo said, “it’s not done unless necessary.”
“All I’m saying,” Penny said, “is that may become necessary soon.”
“Come on you two,” Heather called out across the lawn, “we need to get your bags and head home now.”
“All right, Heather,” Little Sandy called out as she and her brother ran across the lawn.
“They look so happy there,” Sandy said as she came from behind and put her arms round Heather’s neck.
“They do – this place is miraculous,” Heather said, “have you seen your mother?”
“Oh yes – quite a transformation,” Sandy said as she kissed Heather’s neck.
“Hmmm – stop that, lover – until later.”
“Is that a promise?”
Heather nodded as the kids came running up.
From the walkway Allison looked on, her hand fingering the handle of the gun in her purse. It would be so easy, so simple to take the gun out, show these two dirty little Lesbos what she thought of them – but the kids. No matter what her hurt, she did nit want them to see that pain.
So she removed her hand and stood, watching as the kids hugged their mother and nanny. One day, one day her time would come.
From the window Vanessa watched all, thinking over the situation in her mind. She watched the children come in and walked out to greet them, Allison following them in.
“Vanessa, we must leave now,” Dieter said as he and Sigi came into the room. “Thank you for the privilege of everything this weekend.”
“The privilege has been ours,” Vanessa said as she kissed Dieter and Siggy, “thank you for all you have done.”
"Tom might I ask a question?"
Tom Callaghan turned and smiled as he said "Please
do Mrs. Graham."
"Is it possible to make all traces of a call girl
ring that operated online disappear totally?"
"Not really, it's how we often catch people. They forget that even erasing something
doesn't mean records of their sites won't still be stored somewhere."
"Could anyone even erase those traces Tom."
"Well Allison, you don't mind me calling that do
"No, please go ahead, you were saying?"
"Maybe just one mysterious figure we know as
either The Hidden Hand, or as Van Gogh could probably eradicate every trace of
a web site."
"And who is this Hidden Hand?"
"We don't know, we simply know that Janice can
contact him or her if she needs to. The Hand is sort of neutral - works with
the good guys like us, and the bad guys."
"Sounds an interesting person...well thanks for
answering my question Tom."
"SHIT!" Heather thought to herself as she sat in the corner, Allison's snooping was now getting too close to home.
“Is everything all right darling,” Vanessa said as she looked at Sandy.
“Yes,” Sandy said quietly as she looked at Heather, “everything’s fine.”
Vanessa looked at her daughter, and then nodded as she watched Allison leave the room.
“So people are starting to leave,” John said as he came in with Shirley. “An end to a fine weekend – but we’re staying tonight, correct?”
“I hope so,” Shirley said as she saw Heather and Sandy walk out to join Jo. “Would you excuse me a minute?”
She followed them out and met Penny in the hallway.
“What’s going on?”
“Allison Graham – causing trouble.”
“Penny, do me a favour – ring the office and find out what we can about Allison’s family. Urgent.”
“Give me fifteen minutes,” Penny said as she walked out.
Shirley walked slowly over to the library, knocking and coming in as Jo looked over and nodded.
"All I'm saying lover is that she's like a dog
chasing her scent." Heather spoke.
"More like a dog with a bone." Jo was
looking concerned, "she won't let go."
"I know somehow she's found out about Angelic Escorts and she's picking up little bits of information that just might be dangerous." Sandy said as she sat at attention. She tried to sound calm, but the worry was clear in her eyes.
“It would appear Allison is worrying you all,” Shirley said quietly. “Do you require my help?”
“I wish we could take it,” Sandy said, “but we have to find a different way.”
“This is not the first time.”
“Yve was different,” Jo said. “She acted alone, and – well, look where it led.”
“No – thank you, Shirley, but only as a last resort.”
Outside the door, Vanessa could not hear what was being said, but she understood one thing – someone had hurt her family, and that someone was Allison.
“Sorry, Vanessa – is Shirley around?”
She turned and smiled at Penny, who was standing behind her. “I think she’s in there,” Vanessa said, “Will you excuse me Penny? I need to take care of some business.”
Penny watched Vanessa walk off, and then went into the room.
“Ah, Penny – what news?”
“Well, Allison Gardiner Graham, you know most of her story – but I found out who her maternal grandfather is, and thought I should tell you immediately.”
“Her maternal grandfather,” Penny said, “is Freddy Hughson. Her mother disowned herself from the family.”
Sandy stood up and looked at Penny. “Does Mother know?”
“I do not believe so – she just left me outside.”
Shirley stood up. “Sandy, would you delay your departure for a short while? Penny, which direction was Vanessa heading in?”
“Out into the grounds, why?”
“Please find Paulie and Gus van Roon – I believe they were talking to Guy and Valeria before they left. We may have need of them.”
“Sorry,” George said as he came in, holding Jennifer, “have any of you seen Allison?”
“She was here a few minutes ago,” Sandy said, “why?”
“I’m worried – I don’t think she’s been taking her tablets, and something’s gone missing from our room.”
“I will go and look for her,” Shirley said as she pulled her gloves on. “Please, George, stay here with the others.”
“Please sit down, George,” Sandy said, “Shirley will find her.”
“Ah, Allison,” Vanessa said as she found the young woman in the hallway, “we haven’t really had much of a chance to talk this weekend, haven’t we?”
“Well, you have been busy as the hostess Vanessa?”
“Oh please – I wish to be called Nessa now, and I wanted to give you a present – you and George. Would you come down to the wine cellar with me?”
“Of course,” Allison said as Vanessa walked her to the door. “Forgive me,” she said as she put on a pair of soft leather gloves, “some of the contents are very delicate.”
Unlocking the door, she turned on the lights and walked down the stairs, Nessa following as they reached the cellar floor. Laying her purse down on a barrel, Allison looked round, admiring the racks of wine bottles.
“Your father had a very fine wine cellar, Nessa,” she said as she turned round.
“Indeed,” Nessa said as she put her hand on the barrel, “something he sought to protect for his family. I am sure you can appreciate that, Allison, as a mother.”
“I understand – I would do anything to preserve my family and preserve my place in society.”
“Interesting choice of words,” Nessa said, “given you seem to prize the latter over the former.”
Allison was walking round, running her bare hands over the bottles, not noticing as Nessa looked in her purse.
“Of course, Vanessa – you yourself said position was everything.”
“I was wrong – family is everything, Allison, and you have forgotten that lesson.”
Allison heard the click and slowly turned, staring at Nessa as she stood, the gun in her gloved hands pointing straight at her.
“So you finally show your true colours,” Allison said quietly. “I did wonder how long it would take.”
"Allison I never liked you." Vanessa admired how steadily she was holding the weapon in her gloved hand as she spoke. "You hurt my family very badly when you took George away from Alexandra."
"The lesbian bitch didn't fight very hard to keep him." Allison giggled, almost maniacally.
“She lost her unborn children as a result – I think she had other things on her mind.”
“What was left of it – she was going the same way as you wasn’t she? Lost her man, lost the child, lost her mind…”
Nessa smiled. “So it was you who found out – well, I told Sandy the other night, so that little scheme will come to naught.”
“Ah well,” Allison giggled, “given the hurt I feel, it’s not that much.”
"Be that as it may,” Nessa said quietly, “you still hurt her and the children severely."
"So what do you intend to do now you old
"That's an interesting question Allison."
Nessa smiled, "the me I created to please my parents would just take
everything in internally and try to act as though nothing had happened. But the
real me on the other hand has the spirit of my grandmother within her, and just
as she killed the Flaherty brothers to right a wrong, then I'm in little doubt
that I should kill you."
"You haven't got it in you." Allison spat
out the words.
"Before this weekend I'd have probably agreed
with you, but I've rediscovered that I do very much have it in me to kill
someone as unpleasant as you Allison." Vanessa smiled coldly.
Allison assessed her situation. She was in a confined
space, with no one to hear her cries for help should she make them. Her only
route of escape was to overpower Vanessa, but the look of steely calm on the
beautiful older woman's face made her doubt she could do that without getting
Quickly Allison looked to check if there was a weapon, or something, close to hand that might aid her.
“I can see what you’re thinking,” Nessa said, “she’s twice my age – more actually – so I can rush her, force the gun off her. By all means, try – see how far that gets you. But there is still time, still a way out for you.”
“Oh – and what’s that?”
Vanessa never took her eyes off Allison as she said “Well, you could tell me why?”
“Why? Why did I want to know?” Allison started laughing hysterically, before she said “You may think you’ve changed Nessa Richmond, but you still have the same habits. You and fucking Sandy and the Huntingdown bitches – all keeping so many little secrets. You never accepted me as part of your circle, and I deserved it more than most, as the step-mother of your grandchildren, as the woman who deserved it more than a bloody florist or a common housewife.”
“And there was your problem Allison – you had this impossible ideal of who measured up to you. I don’t think George even deserved you.”
“George? He’s a milksop, but he loves our daughter. He’ll love all his children when they are ours, once your family has undergone the disgrace it so richly deserves.”
“I will not let you bring my family into disrepute – any of them. Sandy, Heather, Jo – they are my family as well, and I will protect them.”
“You? Goddamit, what is it about the Richmond family and their inability to admit the obvious? My grandfather should have killed you and the bastard you were carrying that night.”
“I beg your pardon.”
“Oh that’s right – you don’t know.” Allison walked slowly forward. “My grandfather is Freddie Hughson. What do you say now, you fucking little witch daughter of a gem thief?”
Nessa’s eyes widened as she heard those words, and then Allison’s cry as she ran towards her. Her finger instinctively pulled the trigger, as she closed her eyes. Only when she heard the body fall to the floor did she open them again, and look down on Allison, the blood beginning to seep from where her forehead had been.
“Nessa? Nessa are you down here?”
Shirley came into the wine cellar and looked at the body on the floor, and then at her host as she stood, the gun still in her hand.
“Oh no,” she whispered quietly.
“She was threatening to hurt my family again,” Vanessa whispered, “and then she told me who her grandfather was. I had to do it, just like Shelagh did all those years ago – I had to preserve the family.”
“It’s all right, Vanessa, I understand,” Shirley said as she looked at her friend.
“Did you hear?”
“Only because I came down here to find you – I don’t think anyone else has heard yet. Look at her – what must have been going through her mind?”
"Only she really knew.”
“Did you at any point take your gloves off
Vanessa?" Shirley asked.
"No I didn't." Even Nessa was surprised at how calm she was.
"Good." Shirley looked at the body, the
bloody mess in the side of what had been Allison's head the terrifying evidence
of Vanessa's crime.
"She deserved it you know."
"I know Vanessa." Shirley stood up and looked at her friend.
"I will quite happily take my punishment."
"I'm hoping there is a way you won't have to.”
Vanessa looked at Shirley, who smiled as she had a
thought. "Tell me was Allison right or left handed?"
"Left handed I'm sure...Why?"
"Because the way you shot her we can make this
look like suicide, given her mental state, I'm sure the police will buy that
"They will Shirley?"
"Yes, if you will be guided by me." Shirley smiled again as she took the pistol in her own gloved hand and placed it in on the purse.
“Hold your hands out Nessa?”
“I need to put your gloves on Allison’s hands – they have gunpowder residue on them.” As Vanessa slowly put her arms out, Shirley removed her gloves one by one and put them on the dead woman’s hands. She then picked up the gun and put it in Allison's left hand, putting the trigger finger round the bent metal.
“So what do we do now?”
“In 1929, my own great grandmother helped your grandmother. It is time for you to let me help you now. Where are Alex and George?”
“George…” Vanessa seemed to wake from a dream as she turned and looked at Shirley. “He’s upstairs with the girls. What am I going to tell him?”
“You’re going to let me do the talking, and follow my lead. You were seen coming down with her – I will say I came down to look for both of you, heard her ranting, and then I heard the shot. She shot herself, do you understand Nessa?”
Vanessa looked at Shirley and said “Yes, she waved the gun in my face before she shot herself.”
“Good – come on, we need to set the wheels in motion. Time to start crying – let all the fear and anger out. Ready?”
Vanessa nodded as Shirley put her arm round her shoulders and led her up.
“There you are,” Alex said as they came up out of the cellar, “where’s… Vanessa what’s wrong?”
“Oh god, Alex, it’s horrible…” Vanessa said as George and Ken came out.
“What’s happened? Where’s Allison?”
“George, I’m so sorry,” Shirley whispered, “She… She’s in the wine cellar.”
George ran down the stairs, before they all heard him scream “ALLISON!!! NO!!!”
Ken ran down after him as the others came out of the library.
“What’s happened,” Heather said as she held Jennifer.
“It’s Allison – she killed herself. She was ranting and raving at me when I offered her a gift, then she pulled a gun and…”
Ken ran back up and went to the telephone. “Operator? I need police and an ambulance at Curragh Park – we have a shooting.”
“Take Vanessa into the library,” Alex said as he ran down to the cellar, Ken shaking his head as he waited by the telephone.
“Come,” Shirley said as Vanessa started crying again, “let me get you a drink…”
“What’s happened,” Paulie said as she and Gus came in.
“I’m not sure,” Ken said as Alex led George out, “but Allison’s dead. Can you stay with the others in the library – I need to let the police in.”
“All right you two,” Heather said as she looked at George and Sandy, “we’re going to watch a DVD for a little while.”
“When are we heading home?”
“Soon – for now, let’s wait until mummy’s ready, all right?”
“Ken,” Tom said, “I need to see as well.”
“Go down – but there is nothing you can do.”
As Tom went down, Ken came into the library and looked at the others.
“Sandy, I can understand if you think your place is here, but believe me, the kids are better away from this.”
Sandy looked at her mother, who nodded and said “Take them home – you, Heather and Jo. I’ll call you later.”
“Are you sure, Mum,” Sandy said as she knelt in front of Nessa.
“Don’t worry,” Paulie said, “Shirley and I will stay with her.”
“Jo, tell Heather to bring the kids to the car.”
Jo nodded as Sandy hugged her mother, and then went outside. Alex was sittiing with George, who was staring straight ahead.
“George, I’m so sorry,” she said as he put her hand on her shoulder.
“Thanks – I just keep thinking of what I’m going to tell Jennifer.”
“We’ll worry about that later,” Alex said quietly. “I think you need to go and hold her now – come on.”
Sandy watched her ex-husband walk into the library, and then went to the car.
“Can we have some ice cream at home Mummy,” George said as he was strapped in.
“Yes, you can,” Sandy said, “and then mommy has to talk to both of you.”
As they turned out of the driveway, a police car and ambulance sped past them on the road.
“Fast work,” Heather whispered, “what do you think happened?”
“I have no idea,” Sandy said, “and right now, I don’t want to really think about it. Would you think it wrong if I felt sorry for him?”
Heather shook her head as they drove down.
“Officer, I’m Doctor Ken Boyd – this is Director Tom Callaghan, FBI.”
“I’m here as a witness, officer,” Tom said, “not in an official capacity.”
“You said there has been a shooting?”
“Indeed – a fatality.”
“You’d better get the coroner out,” the officer said to his partner, “can you take me to the body?”
“I’ll accompany you,” Tom said as he went in with the police officer, Ken talking to the ambulance crew.
The officer looked at Allison’s body, and grimaced slightly. “Not a pretty sight – any idea what happened?”
“You’ll need to talk to Vanessa Richmond upstairs – apparently she saw the whole thing. She said the deceased was waving that gun around, ranting, and then…”
The officer bent down and looked at the gun in her hand. “Any idea where she got the gun?”
“Her husband’s upstairs – he might be able to tell you.”
Nodding, the officer stood and rubbed his head. “Nothing’s been touched?”
“Not to the best of my knowledge.”
“All right – we’ll leave her here for the coroner. I should go and talk to Mrs Richmond.” He looked properly at Ken and said “Party weekend?”
“Yeah – roaring twenties. Guess we really relived the times.”
The two men went up to the hallway as Alex came out of the library.
“Officer, this is Father Alex Richmond. Alex, this is Officer…”
“Mulholland – you are the owner of this house?”
“My sister officially is – I suppose you will need to talk to her?”
“I will be brief, Father – we can take a fuller statement later.”
“This way,” he said as a small man with balding dark hair came in.
“Hello Mulholland – where is the unfortunate body?”
“In the wine cellar Doc – Doctor Boyd, this is Doctor Theodore Blumer, the coroner.”
“Ken Boyd,” Ken said as he shook his hand, “I’ll show you down.”
“This way officer,” Alex said as he led the policeman into the library, where Nessa was sitting with Shirley and Paulie.
“Mrs Richmond,” the officer said, “forgive me, but I need to ask what happened here tonight.”
“Of course, officer, ask what you need to ask,” Nessa said as Paulie held her hand. “I am not sure how much help I will be, but what I can do to help I will.”
“I presume this is not your usual field of expertise, Doctor Boyd?”
“No, I’m a radiologist, but I have seen military service,” Ken said. “This though…”
Blumer nodded. “Not a nice sight. I can fairly much state the cause of death, agreed?”
“Agreed – her husband said she had been taking anti-depressants.”
“Had she now? Well, we’ll do a full tox screen at the lab, see what that tells us. Did you know her?”
“We only met this weekend – I understand she’d had a number of traumatic experiences over the last few months.”
“Well, I don’t think she can tell us any more here,” Doctor Blumer said. “We’ll let my friends from the police do their work, then move her to the mortuary. I’ll do an autopsy there. You said her husband is upstairs?”
Ken nodded as the doctor said “I will talk to him tomorrow in detail, but I need to speak to him now, explain what is going to happen.”
“Of course – this way, please.”
As the two men came up, George and Alex were coming down the stairs.
"So how did her parents take it George?"
"Better then I expected." George looked
ashen. "Her mother said the most curious thing though."
"Oh, and what was that?"
"Something along the lines of that she
half-expected this to happen in this house. Then she mumbled something about
family history...To be honest I'm not really taking anything in at the
"You and Jennifer will stay tonight?"
"Ummm yes thank you Alex, I have to see the coroner and the police tomorrow."
“Mister Graham? Doctor Blumer, the coroner. We’ll move the body to the mortuary once the police have taken the evidence, and I will perform an autopsy tomorrow.”
“Of course – I have informed her parents, and they will come here tomorrow.”
“I expect as much,” Dr Blumer said as he put his hand on George’s shoulder. “I am sorry for your loss, and if there is anything I can do…”
“Thank you Doctor, but I will be fine,” George said quietly. “I need to see to my daughter and I expect the officer will want to talk to me as well.”
“Well, we will talk tomorrow,” the coroner said as Ken showed him out.
George looked at the officer as he came out of the library.
“I know this is a difficult time, Mister Graham, but there are some questions I have to ask now,” he said as the second officer went down with the ambulance crew.
“Of course – I understand, but please, I need to see to my daughter.”
“It will only take a moment, sir. I understand you owned the gun your wife was killed with?”
"My wife had been the victim in three armed
robberies Officer. We had the gun because it provided her with secure
"And you say the gun was in your bedside
"Yes, I hadn't wanted to bring it, but she
"And you say your wife had stopped taking her
"She must have...she should have been a way down
that bottle of pills and it was still unopened."
"How had she seemed?"
"A lot better, more active, but I guess rushing
round a lot."
"Would you say hyped up?"
"I guess so...certainly more then has been usual recently."
The officer made a note and said “Well, the coroner will tell us more in the morning. We’ll remove the body soon, Mister Graham – I expect we’ll want to talk to you in the morning.”
“Of course,” Tom said as Vanessa brought Jennifer out. “Hello, my angel,” he said as he held her, “you look hungry. Let’s see if we can find you something to eat.”
“Come with me George,” Vanessa said as they headed for the kitchen, and Tom came out of the library.
"Well Officer?" Tom asked.
"We will wait to see what the coroner says, if
she had any medication in her system, but I doubt it...I think she stopped
taking her meds because she thought she was getting better, and wasn't...we've
had a couple of similar cases locally before."
"I've seen it as well." Tom shook his head,
"Poor woman, a lovely baby, her husband's a really nice guy, but I guess
the trauma of the past 18 months or so caught up with her."
"It looks like it sir." the young officer nodded.
“All right, officer, this is a local matter now – I’ll stay clear of it except as a concerned friend.”
“Thank you for your help, sir,” the officer said as Alex came out. “Father Richmond, may I have a word please?”
“Of course Officer – how may I help you?”
"Can you provide some background please on the couple Father?"
"Well, she was his second wife, his first wife was my niece, he had two children with her, and just the one with Allison."
"And he is?"
"A Banker...he's a partner in one of the big Wall
Street banks...she worked on Wall St. as well."
"So were they well off, no financial problems?"
"No, not at all, both successful people from
"Did she get on with your niece?"
"Tolerably well...I think they were both a bit
too civilised to fight."
"And how did she get on with your sister?"
"Very well all things considered, she and George hosted Vanessa last Easter, she was returning the compliment."
“So there were no signs, no indications she was likely to do something like…”
“Please, do not say it Officer – but to answer your question, she had seemed very relaxed this weekend. She had been asking some questions, but nothing unusual.”
The officer nodded as he made some notes. “Has anything happened this weekend that may have bothered her?”
“Well, we did have the party all weekend, and one or two incidents, but nothing that directly affected her or George.”
“All right,” the officer said as he put his notebook away, “I think we have all we need for now. I will leave you to mourn for her.”
“Thank you Officer,” Alex said as they shook hands, and he showed her out, as Ken answered his cell phone.
“Karen? How is Susan?
“Yeah I understand – look, there’s been an – incident here. I’ll tell you about it later, you concentrate on what you do best love.
“See you later – bye.”
“How is Susan,” Alex asked.
“Oh the baby is coming – funny, life and death in the same day.”
“Not really, Ken, but I understand what you mean. Come – we need to be with the others.”
“So what happens now Alex,” John said as he sat with Shirley, Gus and Paulie.
“We pray for her soul, we support Nessa and George, and we let the others know. I’ll make a few phone calls.”
“Are you all right, Shirley – to walk in on a scene like that…”
“I will be all right, John – but I would like to be held tonight…”
As Penny opened the door, and Lily and Maisha went in, she saw the blinking light on the answering machine.
Pressing the button, she heard Clint say “Penny, Susan has gone into labour – can you make the phone calls Susan told you about please?”
“Susan’s giving birth? Well, that calls for a drink,” Lily said as the phone went again. Maisha answered it and said “Xavier residence?
“Yes she is here Father Richmond – I’ll fetch her for you.”
Maisha handed the phone to Penny, who raised an eyebrow as she said “Alex, what can I do for you?
“Oh my – yes, of course I understand. I’ll expect Shirley and John tomorrow, and will ensure all her appointments for tomorrow are rescheduled. Thanks for calling Alex, and pass on my condolences to George.”
“What’s happened,” Lily said as she hung her coat up.
“Allison Graham is dead – apparently she shot herself.”
“What? Where was Sandy?”
“No – Shirley found Vanessa standing over the body, she shot herself.”
“Penny, what are you not telling me?”
“Nothing – for now.”
The de Ros Mansion
“A truly memorable weekend,” Guy said as he accepted a drink from Willy.
“But back to school tomorrow,” Abby said with a sigh as she sat with Marie-Louise and Jeanne.
“Mrs de Ros, Father Richmond is on the telephone for you,” Edith said as she stood in the doorway.
“Excuse me a moment,” Diana said as she stood up and went into the hallway.
“So when do you return to France,” Natasha said.
“Friday – we all fly out together,” Valeria said as Diana came back in.
“Mother, what is the matter,” Abby said as she stood up.
“Alex… Alex has just given me some news,” Diana said. “Allison killed herself tonight.”
“May the lord have mercy on her soul,” Valeria said as she crossed herself.
The Huntingdown Apartment
“Yes, yes of course I understand Alex. Please, pass on our thoughts and prayers to George, and give Jennifer a kiss from all of us.”
“What’s happened,” Klaus said as Juliette put the phone down.
“The poor woman, the poor poor woman…”
“Allison Graham – Alex says she killed herself tonight, not long after we left.”
Sigi put her hand to her mouth as Dieter held her, while Carina and Annie hugged each other.
“She was never exactly my friend,” Juliette said, “but I am sorry to hear of what has happened – especially for George and Jennifer.”
“We must send our condolences in the morning,” Klaus said quietly.
“Yes – yes we must,” Juliette said quietly.
West Central Park
“I understand Tom, we’ll see you in the morning.”
“What’s happened,” Janice said as Adam put the phone down.
“Having a bath,” Katherine said, “what’s happened?”
“Allison Graham shot and killed herself earlier tonight. Tom’s heading back with Gale now, but has offered our help gathering statements from everyone who was there this weekend.”
“Oh the poor man,” Katherine said as Marina returned with Kylie.
“We got the things you asked for,” Kylie said, “any word from Susan?”
“No - no not yet, but someone who was at the house has died.”
“Oh my,” Marina said quietly, “who?”
“Allison, Allison Graham.”
The two girls looked at each other before Kylie said “What happened?”
“We don’t know yet,” Adam said as he sat down, “but we need to ask you two a few questions over the next few days, before you go to Hong Kong.”
The Richmond Mansion
“Will Daddy and Jennifer be all right, Mom?”
“I think they will be, but Daddy is going to be upset for a little while. So when you see him, make sure you give him the biggest hugs you can, all right?”
Little Sandy and George nodded as Sandy held their hands.
“If you want to cry, that’s all right as well, after all Allison was Daddy’s wife. Just don’t be afraid to tell us if you’re upset, all right?”
The two children nodded as Heather took them out of the room, and Sandy sat back, looking at Jo.
“Go on, you can say it,” Jo said quietly, “it solves a lot of problems.”
“It does – and I’m not going to deny I’m not glad she got what she deserved – but still, I never thought she would kill herself.”
“From what Alex said, she may have stopped taking the tablets.”
“Still, it was a shock and a surprise.”
“So you’re not cracking open the champagne?”
“No – believe it or not, I want to help George if I can. For Jennifer’s sake.”
“That was Shirley,” Penny said as she came back into the room, “George has put Jennifer down for the night, and is talking to Gus and Alex.”
“The poor woman,” Helen said as she sat with her iced tea, “what would drive someone to do that to themselves?”
“We will never really know,” Catherine said quietly, “but the human mind can do strange things – convince people of truths that are complete fabrications. Whatever the reason, may she be…”
The telephone rang again, as Lily stood up and said “I’ll get it.”
“What is even more strange,” Helen said as she looked at the others, “is that we are all seasoned killers, and yet we feel this death more than most.”
“Possibly because it is unexpected and tragic,” Catherine said, “when my father died, I mourned him for so long, and then I realized I had to continue his work.”
Helen nodded as Lily came in.
“Who was that?”
“Clint – it’s a baby girl, mother and baby doing fine.”
“How appropriate – we mourn a death and celebrate a life at the same time,” Catherine said. “Does the child have a name yet?”
“Yes – April. April Shirley Walker.”
“They’re fine,” Karen said as she sat with Ken, “it was a quick delivery in the end, but to hear the news when I came back…”
“I know,” Ken said as he held her hand. “Alex has offered a room for tonight – it’s a bit late to be heading back to Boston now, and we both have tomorrow off anyway.”
Karen nodded and then said “how is George?”
“Numb, starting to grieve – like Susan and Clint, and us, he has someone he needs to look after now.”
Karen nodded as she held her bump, and then laid her head on Ken’s shoulder.
“Here,” Gus said as he handed George a drink, “Jennifer’s asleep now.”
“Thanks – I’ll go and be with her in a while. I don’t think I can sleep tonight.”
“George, you need to get some sleep,” Alex said quietly as he and John sat with them, “I know it has been a tragic day, but you need to be there for your daughter now.”
“I know – did Karen say Susan had given birth, Shirley?”
“Yes – John, would you mind if we went to see them on the way home tomorrow?”
“Of course not,” John said as he held Shirley’s hand.
“Where did Vanessa go?”
“She and Paulie went outside,” Gus said, “shall I…”
“No – let them talk for now.”
“Well, the old place certainly lived up to the past,” Vanessa said as she and Paulie sat watching the sunset from the swing seat on the back of Curragh Park.
“How are you, Nessa?”
“Strangely at peace – it was a shock when it happened, but now, I just pray George finds some peace as well.”
Paulie nodded before she said “Despite the tragedy, this
has been an awfully special weekend Ness."
"And why was that darling?"
"Because after all these years, I've finally got
my best friend back"
Vanessa held Pauline's hand as the last rays of the day’s sun dipped below the horizon. Tomorrow was going to be another whole new day.